News

Big Pharma’s Endless Greed on Full Display In Aduhelm Fight

By January 18, 2022No Comments

Washington, DC — Press reports indicate that Big Pharma is about to launch a massive lobbying campaign attacking Medicare’s decision to limit reimbursement for Biogen’s pricey and unproven Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. CMS previously announced that it would be forced to raise Medicare Part B premiums for every Medicare recipient in response to the unprecedented price tag of Biogen’s drug. Biogen and its Big Pharma are rallying against Medicare’s decision to limit the drug to patients in clinical trials, even when the drug has dubious benefits for patients. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Big Pharma’s greed knows no bounds. CMS made the right choice to limit Aduhelm’s coverage.  Medicare premiums shouldn’t go up for the millions of seniors who are already struggling to afford their everyday health care costs, just so Big Pharma can pad their profits and their executives’ pocketbooks. The Aduhelm debate only underscores the urgent need to pass the Build Back Better Act, which will put an end to the broken drug pricing system.” 

BACKGROUND:

Axios: Big Pharma’s Last-Ditch Lobbying Blitz For Aduhelm. “Now that CMS proposed limiting coverage of Aduhelm to patients who enroll in a randomized, controlled clinical trial, the public has 30 days to submit comments. An all-out lobbying blitz that pushes Medicare to scrap its plan and allow full coverage of the $28,000-per-year drug… Independent experts say Medicare’s proposal is a compromise based on the known science.” [Axios, 1/14/22]

Politico: ‘Not A Tolerable Situation’: Patient Groups Take Aim At CMS Over Alzheimer’s Coverage Decision. “Biogen declined to comment on its strategy, but the company told investors that it hoped CMS would revise its decision and cover the drug for patients who mirrored the populations that were already included in clinical trials… Separately, patient groups and pharmaceutical lobbyists plan to pressure Congress, making the case that CMS is stifling innovation and also creating a paradigm that will disproportionately harm patients with low incomes and patients of color.”  [Politico, 1/17/22]

The Washington Post: Alzheimer’s Groups Vow To Fight Proposed Medicare Restrictions On Controversial Drug. “The company [Biogen] plans to encourage patients and doctors to file protests about the CMS proposal during a 30-day public comment period, according to a company email obtained by Endpoints News, a trade publication. CMS officials, who opened the comment period Tuesday, said they plan to announce a final decision by April 11… The [FDA] approval was not based on evidence showing a benefit. The approval, along with reports about staff interactions with Biogen, set off a furor and led to an ongoing investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.” [The Washington Post, 1/12/22]

Forbes: Medicare Proposes Restricting Coverage Of Aduhelm To Alzheimer’s Patients Who Enroll In Clinical Trials. “In approving Aduhelm in June of last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence the drug would meaningfully improve outcomes, but granted it marketing authorization anyway under its “accelerated approval” program… Additionally, approximately 40% of patients who have taken Aduhelm have suffered swelling or bleeding in the brain. Others have experienced side-effects, such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and confusion. And, the manufacturer Biogen is investigating a patient death, which could be attributed to Aduhelm.” [Forbes, 1/12/22]